Edited By Dominique Nasta, Muriel Andrin and Anne Gailly
Revisiting Film Melodrama brings forth pioneering French and English-speaking approaches from internationally known experts as well as by young researchers, aiming to broaden the research area through new historical and aesthetic perspectives. Indeed, film melodrama has too often been under-estimated, most surveys having essentially focused on the audience’s emotions and on excessive representations, often neglecting the complexities of the «melodramatic mode». More than ever, melodrama as film genre requires a comprehensive, multi-layered re-appraisal which includes references to the genre at work on television, animation and the internet.
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. Where is Marxism in Melodrama Theory? (Jane Gaines)
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Where is Marxism in Melodrama Theory?
The reader may wonder how I will answer this question, “Where is the Marxism in Melodrama Theory?” since there are so many Marxisms. The short answer to the ‘where’ question is that it is and was everywhere. But there were key moments in 1918, 1969 and 1972 where Marxist approaches figured in the critical evolution of popular melodrama theory.1 Then in 1987 Marxist feminist film studies linked film melodrama with the American sentimental literary tradition exemplified by the 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin to which I return as an ur-text.2 To bring this overview up to date I would add Lauren ← 277 | 278 → Berlant’s recent The Female Complaint with its debts to British Marxist feminism, the Birmingham School, and American cultural Marxism as well as German Frankfurt School theory.3 Strangely, though, she does not cite Ernst Bloch, my 1918 reference and the source of the idea that the utopian wish can be found in the lowest form. Nevertheless, Bloch’s Marxian anticipatory ‘hope’ seems kept alive in Berlant’s ‘sentimental politics’, both the progressive utopianism and the radical challenge to the body politic found in popular women’s literature and film.4 Put another way, wherever there is ‘hope’ in melodrama theory, there is Marxism.
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